So hey everyone. I'm new to the site. My name's Chelsea and I'm a young atheist (fifteen years old). I've been an atheist since May of 2011. I told my parents but they didn't take it very well ("Where did we go wrong? Should we check her into a mental facility? I wonder if she's just doing it for attention?") so I was able to convince them that I am Catholic, even though...I'm not. But I'd rather lie to my parents about my religious beliefs (or lack thereof, rather) than be treated like some kind of rebellious heathen. I'm a good kid, really, I think. I worked hard to get into a really great high school and I keep my grades up; I don't drink or smoke weed or have sex. But somehow the idea of atheism can cancel that all out for my parents.
Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm glad to be a part of something where I can talk about atheism without being punished for it. And if the majority of you are adults, as I presume you are, you may or may not have more experience in the world of atheism than I. With that being said, I have some trouble backing up what I believe when people ask me. It's like, I know what I believe and why I believe it, but it makes more sense in my head than it does out loud and I can't change my thoughts into sentences. I'd really like to be able to arm myself with knowledge so I don't look like a fool next time I'm asked.
Anyway, thanks for reading if you're there.
Although reading the books and theories of others can be quite intuitive, believing everything you read is quite naive. Believing what I believe has nothing to do with the hypothesis of others. Think and be free. That's what Atheism is all about. Welcome kiddo.
Welcome to TA and the world of reason. Most of us have been through the difficulty of dealing with the reactions of family and friends when they find out that we no longer suspend our judgment with regard to popular myths. And that is really all atheism is; examined objectively, there is no more reason to believe in god than there is to believe fairies.
That being said, there is a whole world of prejudice out there that must be navigated and the task is treacherous. Fortunately, it is getting a bit easier. I hope that you and other young rationalists don't have to go through some of the things that I went through. I advise caution, however. Don't share your non-belief with anyone who isn't trustworthy or who is a religious fanatic of any stripe. In fact, as soon as you catch a whiff of a personality that has "dedicated his or her life to god", you should run away (usually metaphorically, but perhaps literally). Also, I advise not using your real name on the internet. You might even want to be vague about other identifying information as well.
As for expressing your thoughts well, just research your ideas or the questions and arguments posed by believers. You will find very good counterarguments to any arguments that the religious can throw at you and, if you look hard enough, you will find very well expressed replies often from famous thinkers.
Welcome again, and good luck!
I read many of the comments, but forgive me if I am repeating something already said. In your search for knowledge, don't neglect the chance to learn about Christianity. I was raised atheist, but attended parochial schools for much of my pre-college education. I found the education in Christian theology absolutely priceless when I began discussing why I rejected religion later on.
I know it really sucks to paste on a devout face and go to church or what have you, but you can learn a lot, and that will help state clearly why you don't agree with religion. If it helps, think of yourself as an undercover investigator, or as an anthropologist in a foreign country, trying to learn as much as you can about this culture. (I did this through high school, and it was kind of fun, although I did have my family in my corner. Then again, you have the entire internet community of atheists!)
Also, if you have the chance, take some courses in religion, mythology, even in Christianity. You may not have access to anything like that until college, but it's really invaluable to know what you're refuting!
BTW, I teach college classes about Christianity from a historical, cultural, totally non-theist perspective, so if you ever have questions, or find that you want resources on history of Christianity, let me know. Not that you don't have TONS of resources already here (which are all fantastic), but still.
Welcome, best wishes and good luck!
When I was 13, I became a born again Christian, much to the pleasure of my Catholic parents, until I told them that they were going to burn in hell for praying to the saints and Mary, etc (the differences between Catholics and protestants). In the end they were just happy that I was some kind of Christian, until I left the church at 17 (experimented with Taoism and New Age and other things for a while, until it was clear that naturalism made the most sense). Now I'm much older and I've learned a thing or two. Back then, my parents were liberal Catholics with their own problems, so they didn't freak out so much when I left the church, but now that they are old, they are much more religious and dogmatic than ever. After many years of discussions, often very heated, we agree to disagree and when we are all together we just don't talk about it. We've decided that family is more important. Not every family can do that though, and it took years to get there. Every situation is different, but you might come to a point when you just can't or don't want to hide it anymore. If that happens, be respectful with your skepticism, humble about what you do know, and have some diffusing bible verses like these handy to share right from the start:
“...And be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15)
“Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thes. 5:21)
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient...” (2 Tim. 2:24)
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20)
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Prov. 27:17).
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord…” (Is. 1:18).
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world’ (1 John 4:1).
“The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going” (Prov. 14:15).
When I use these verses with Christians online, I notice they almost always turn the heat way down when I ask them difficult questions. It won't always work though.
Last, I'd like to 4th (5th?) the motion that youtube is great as well. I like qualiasoup and nonstampcollector- his cartoons are very informative and accessible, even if a little more provocative than might be suitable for sharing with them, you will learn where the controversies are. Remember, it doesn't matter if you are right, you WILL turn them off if you are rude, aggressive, or arrogant. Always find something to agree on when discussing what you don't agree on (per the work of Mercier and Sperber).
Welcome Chelsea. And congratulations for being able to think for yourself. Whenever you feel a bit left out, remember that you have this very important tool, and that makes you a cut above those that have dependencies.
Hi Chelsea and welcome...:-) Most people who believe in the Bible believe the ENTIRE UNIVERSE is only six-thousand years old..!! Ask them if that's true, when did God make all the fossils...???